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Environmental groups want to know what was said in more than a dozen email "threads" about the resort between Gov. Cuomo's office and APA staff. Photo: Brian Mann
Environmental groups want to know what was said in more than a dozen email "threads" about the resort between Gov. Cuomo's office and APA staff. Photo: Brian Mann

Green groups question Cuomo's role in Big Tupper review

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Environmental groups say they suspect that Governor Andrew Cuomo may have meddled illegally in the decision to grant permits for a big new resort in Tupper Lake. The project was given the green light earlier this year by the Adirondack Park Agency.

State officials say the permits were given after a fair and impartial review. But two green groups are demanding information about what role the governor's office played in the process.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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This summer, Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club filed a freedom of information request with the APA, asking for documents that would reveal the behind-the-scenes process that shaped the Adirondack Club and Resort decision.

The Park Agency provided some information, but acting counsel Sarah Reynolds also sent a letter to environmentalists acknowledging that many documents were being withheld because of what she described as attorney-client privilege.

In that letter, dated July 24, Reynolds confirmed that there were at least 18 email conversations between APA staff and the Governor's office about the resort project. The content of those exchanges wasn't revealed.

In a new filing with a state appeals court, Protect and the Sierra Club are asking for all of those emails to be made public — and they're asking for the opportunity to "depose witnesses who were involved in those communications."

According to a statement issued by Protect on Tuesday, the effort is meant "to determine the level of political interference in the approval of the ACR project."

Current and former Park Agency staff and officials have told NCPR repeatedly that they're confident no illegal communication occurred. APA spokesman Keith McKeever says state officials followed strict ex parte rules designed to shelter the decision from outside influence.

In January, the Park Agency approved the resort on a 10 to one vote, allowing construction of great home camps, condos, a new ski area and other amenities. The Sierra Club and Protect have sued hoping to invalidate those permits. And this latest court filing comes as part of that case.

The suit has sparked anger and frustration among the resort's supporters in Tupper Lake, who say green groups hope to delay the project until it unravels financially. 

 

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